Nonfiction and Fiction Authors: What’s the Difference?

Nonfiction and fiction authors have a lot in common. Every author has to build an audience, and building audience requires great passion. The difference for nonfiction and fiction authors is what sustains their passion.

Deep respect for an idea

Venn Diagram showing overlap of Love and RespectThe idea that “won’t stay unsaid.” This Dale Carnegie quote rings true for nonfiction authors.

Having such a deep respect for an idea, nonfiction authors can’t help but share it. Spreading an idea is at the core of their passion for writing. This reverence for an idea permeates everything: their books, blogging, public speaking, social media, etc.

Having such a deep respect for an idea, nonfiction authors can’t help but share it.

Writing a book is a leap of faith. An author has to keep the faith to endure the many hours needed to write a book. It’s that drive to spread an idea, which sustains a nonfiction author through the long process.

Like other generalizations, there are exceptions to nonfiction authors being driven primarily by respect. For authors who write story-driven nonfiction (ie. narrative memoirs), the passion for a story is probably the most important motivator.

True love of a story

“All you need is love.” For fiction authors, this Beatles’ lyric rings true.

Fiction authors carry a true love of the story and characters they’ve created. It’s a love of story that drives them to share.

Fiction authors carry a true love of the story and characters they’ve created. It’s a love of story that drives them to share.

When a story is given freely, authors have a chance to make real connections with readers. To build on these relationships, author outreach should be generous. People will respond to acts of generosity—it’s wired into us. This powerful force at work is reciprocity, and it means people will want to repay, in kind, an act of giving.

When sharing content, fiction authors hope readers can escape into the story. These authors are giving their audience a chance to break out from their daily lives, or take a break from the mundane. Fiction authors are driven to share the story they love in the hope that others will share that love.

Fiction authors are compelled to share their love of story with the world much like most nonfiction authors are driven to share insight around an idea. Though, in my experience, the best books can can do both: connecting with a big idea through good storytelling.

(Tip of the hat to Dr. Emerson Eggerichs for first exposing me to the relationship between Love and Respect in the context of marriage.)